Covid-19 updates

COVID-19 Update 54

Thursday 4 June 2020

Dear AOA Member,

Media interest continues on the quarantine measures as we work with the Department for Transport, Border Force and the Home Office on how to implement the measures. As you would have heard this evening, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that face coverings will be mandatory on all public transport modes in England. Whether this impacts the work ongoing at the DfT with regard to health guidance for aviation, is still being explored.

This afternoon, I attended the Expert Steering Group of the Department for Transport’s Restart and Recovery Unit. Amongst other matters, this public health guidance for aviation operators and passengers was discussed at length and is now nearing completion. The Department expect to be able to publish the guidance at some point next week.

Later, I took part in a Ministerial call; due to diary pressure the Minister could not facilitate a call with all airports. I expressed how the industry speaks with one voice at their opposition to the blanket quarantine measures and that it will put jobs at risk. However, we now need to work toward the review period of the 28 June and look at other public health measures, airbridges and the lifting of FCO advice not to travel. The Minister said she understood the effect of quarantine on aviation and will work with the industry to make sure their voice, and request for additional financial support, is heard. The Minister highlighted that on airbridges, the department is working with Home Office and FCO and it is important to have a joined-up government approach to getting air travel moving again. DfT stated that they were aware of the list from EASA which designates certain UK airports as being in an area of high infection rates; the department are seeking clarifications from EASA on this and will report back. The Minister ended the call by saying that she wants airports to know that regional connectivity is important to her and the department and it is a key piece of work that DfT will cooperate with airports to achieve.

AOA also took part in the second quarantine implementation meeting today with DfT, Home Office and Border Force. The main focus in discussions was on the passenger messaging, with airlines raising concerns over the clarity of the content (including in different languages).  For airports we sought and got confirmation from BF that e-gates can remain in use and that BF will be providing all of their own IT (i.e tablets for passengers to fill out forms as needed).  Members experiencing any difficulties with implementation should flag those up to us ASAP. There will be a further, post-implementation, meeting on Tuesday morning to review how the first operational day went.

This evening, I participated in a high-level roundtable with Home Secretary, Priti Patel, on the quarantine measures, and I will update members on this tomorrow.

Other items of note:

  • Following conversations with Government stakeholders, we are expecting guidance on pubs and hospitality and their arrangements for opening up their businesses in the next few days. With the guidance potentially being published after the Government daily press conference tomorrow. This will come ahead of the June 15th opening date for all non-essential retail venues.
  • The AOA understands that the CAA will be issuing a document to help guide airports thinking on restart and recovery of the aviation security operation. The document will act as a sort-of checklist, to ensure that airport security operations have touched all the bases through the process of restarting and welcoming passenger flows again.

Best wishes,

Karen Dee
Chief Executive